July 21, 2014
Stormwater runoff from urban areas is a significant source of water pollution in the United States. Many states are promoting low impact development (LID) practices, which provide a variety of direct and ancillary ecosystem services. We describe a meta-analysis designed to evaluate the property value benefits of LID practices that reduce impervious surfaces and increase vegetated areas in developments, and present an example application to a hypothetical land use scenario. From the many hedonic property valuation studies of the benefits of general open space, we identified 35 studies that valued open spaces that were similar in nature to the small, dispersed open spaces characteristic of LID. The meta-regression estimates the percent change in a home’s value for an observed percent change in open space within a specific radius of a parcel, based on changes expected to result from LID approaches that increase green spaces. Our results indicate that the design and characteristics of a project affect the magnitude of benefits, and that values decline with distance. More broadly, the meta-analysis shows percent change and proximity are robust determinants of household willingness to pay for aesthetic and other services associated with local availability of small, dispersed open spaces resulting from LID, but that values for other features, including type of vegetation and recreational use may be site-specific. Policymakers and developers could draw on our synthesis of site characteristics’ effects to maximize benefits from open space associated with LID.